Is it better for everyone to have guns or to have a total gun ban? Or what about banning only the most dangerous weapons?
This question doesn’t quite resonate as much with the rest of the world as much as it does with Americans. For the first, it a matter of course that “guns kill”, “guns are dangerous”, “guns should be forbidden”; for the latter, it’s a matter of freedom, constitution and inalienable rights. As the “Left” (arguably, more “European”) influence is picking up momentum in the States, the gun discussion is heating up.
Few Americans advocate for an outright ban, but increasingly many want it to be selective – some types of guns in private hands are OK, others not. But for the gun-loving would-be freedom fighters, it’s a case of give them a finger and they’ll snatch a whole arm. And before you know it, the debate turns dirty. The anti-gun activists take out the… erm, big guns, and use each and every opportunity (e.g. tragic school shootings, etc) to scream “I told you so!” The pro-gun faction fight back with statistics and factoids, blaming anti-gun regulations for increase in violence and random shooting sprees – and reminding everyone that it’s not the law-abiding people who use guns to kill.
Both sides have valid arguments. Neither can be dismissed outright, though many try. But any such imperious dismissals of the opposite positions are only met with the other side digging their heels in that much deeper.
- Ultimately, this is an issue of “security vs liberty”. A gunless European (with the exception of the Swiss) sees gun ownership (by someone else) as a personal threat and supports the government which prohibits gun ownership by just anyone. The well-armed American sees this as a cop-out, insisting that such blind trust in the government’s monopoly on violence is not substantiated by history. And there’s our old friend Ben Franklin who famously said words to the effect that those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither – and will lose both.
- So next, we can turn to statistics. Comparing gun deaths to other violent crime deaths between, say, the US and the UK or any other country is moot. Countries in which guns are outlawed will have fewer gun deaths. But what actually matters is comparing crime-related deaths or levels of violence in general – and here’s where the picture becomes much more polarized. While the US has the dubious distinction of having WAY more gun deaths than the UK, the “disarmed” UK has a staggeringly higher rate of violence. And the surprises don’t stop there. US gun crimes committed in “gun-free zones” outnumber crimes committed in “guns allowed” areas by a factor of 10. Is that a coincidence? Hardly, I dare say.
- Finally, it’s a question of trust in authority. Government, police, military. If you’re comfortable in your faith that either of those will always come to your rescue and/or always treat you fairly EVEN THOUGH you are disarmed, then you’re possibly right to oppose private gun ownership. If, however, you have a valid (as opposed to paranoid) fear of authority, or their ability to come to your rescue when needed – you are probably right to advocate private gun ownership.
While it’s easy to understand both sides of this issue and even sympathize with them, it’s far more difficult to decide “now what?” Go all the way to the left – or right – or stay in the middle? Again, this is one of those questions that actually doesn’t have a good answer under the current political system. We’re living in, essentially, a collectivist democracy (I don’t mean to make this sound negative – but it is what it is), issues like that can never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. If we lived in a free society (“free” as defined by the libertarians or classic liberals – or even anarcho-capitalists), the issue would simply not exist as a point of contention. However, as far as the original question goes – NO it is definitely NOT a good idea to ban guns in America, and for that matter, even to seriously reduce access to them.
- The Truth About Gun Control by Stefan Molyneux
- Banks, Gold and Guns, Corbett Repor